Volunteering 101 – information for first-time volunteers

So you want to volunteer. That’s great! Have you decided how to launch yourself into the unknown world of volunteerism? Here are some tips to get you started.

Step 1: Self-reflect:

Take the time to answer these three easy questions.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What skills do you have?
  • How much time do you have to commit?

After reflecting, your passion for animals and photography could lead you to volunteering as an event photographer for a local animal organization. Alternatively, your reflection could lead you to discover other skills you want develop and different causes to explore. Self-reflection is a great way to frame your volunteer search and help lead you in the right direction.

Step 2: Do some research:

Now that you know what might interest you, its time to find an organization that matches. You can skip to step three if you already know were you want to volunteer. If you’re not sure, search volunteer matching sites such as govolunteer.ca or do an internet search of the volunteer area you want to pursue in your city. There are many organizations looking for volunteers so you could be overwhelmed with the results. However taking the time to search “animal organizations Edmonton” could very well lead you to discovering an organization you did not know existed.

Step 3: Ask questions

Once you’ve found an organization you like, contact them about their available volunteer opportunities. Be sure to ask questions to understand what the volunteer role entails. Here are some basic questions to frame your conversation with the organization’s volunteer coordinator.

  • What activities will you be performing?
  • Is there an interview process?
  • What is the length of commitment to this organization?
  • What is the schedule you will be working?
  • What flexibility exists around doctor’s appointments, emergencies etc.?
  • Is there any additional training or an orientation session that you have to attend?

Just like any new commitment, choosing the right volunteer opportunity doesn’t happen by accident. Be patient. Know what you want to give and what you want to get from the experience. Your first volunteer experience may be the beginning of a wonderful adventure.

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